Pizza is a unifying food. It’s a circle, the most inclusive of shapes. Its slices are easily shared among hungry groups. It welcomes any sauce, cheese or topping. It’s a veritable crowd-pleaser. So, when a co-worker wanted to gather the troops for one of our own’s farewell lunch, pizza was the obvious choice.
We headed to the southside PaPPo’s Pizzeria and Pub (900 E. Battlefield Road, Springfield, 417-306-9091), somewhat newly opened in the Battlefield Market Place shopping center in the space formerly held by Gusano’s Chicago Style Pizzeria. The new location has all the classic PaPPo’s favorites we know and love from the downtown location, just situated a little closer to the office.
A wall of windows brightens the space and keeps it from feeling too much like a pizza cave—not that I’d complain about a pizza cave. A long banquette bench easily accommodated our party of 10, and we immediately jumped into the expansive lunch menu.
The best thing about dining with a such a large group is the opportunity to taste a vast array of menu offerings, and arguably the best thing about pizza is its shareability (it’s already cut into pieces, and it’s totally okay to pass it with your hands), so I knew I was going to get a generous sampling of all that PaPPo’s offers.
We started out with some appetizers. Seeing that we were at an Italian joint, I couldn’t resist trying Joans Meatballs. These bad boys were huge and came served with bread for scooping up the house-made marinara. The difficulty with most meatballs is nailing the texture. Some are so soggy they fall apart, others are dry and hard and still others end up with creepy bits of gristle throughout. Joans Meatballs were perfectly juicy and lusciously smooth, quite a feat for something that large. If they had been seasoned a little bit more, they would have been a home run.
I’m a St. Louis girl born and raised, so naturally I also had to order the toasted ravioli. However, also being a native St. Louisan, I’m pretty picky about my fried stuffed pastas, and these were not quite to my liking. I prefer a tender mix of beef, veal and sausage—cheese toasted ravioli are a travesty—and I like my pasta to be shaped like a perfect pillow, no edge or ridge in sight. PaPPo’s ravioli were healthily sized and came with a velvety smooth marinara for dipping. The generous ridge and the beef-only filling mean they weren’t my favorite, but my Springfield-native co-workers gobbled them up.
After the apps, we were ready to dive into the main event. Everyone in our party opted for the lunch special, a combination of an 8-inch pizza—specialty pizzas included—and a salad. To be quite honest, the salads were take-it-or-leave-it for me; I was here for one thing and one thing only: ’za.